Wither the tea party?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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The once haughty tea party has been whittled down to only a nub of its former self, with only eight percent of Americans now identifying themselves with the faction.

And no wonder – the fiery movement that sprang from legitimate anger over the government bailout of Wall Street banksters, quickly got co-opted by Republican political operatives fronting for those same banksters and for such corporate extremists as the Koch brothers. By brandishing the plutocratic agenda of those elites, the party's popular support has dwindled to a nub that's nutty, focusing on what one Republican leader calls "tinfoil hat" issues.

For example, a top agenda item for today's withered tea party is a full bore, howling assault on something that isn't even there: a nefarious United Nations' plot to destroy American freedom and establish a UN dictatorship over us. Yes, the same international debating society that the right-wing used to mock as meek and weak, is presently being recast as a fearsome totalitarian behemoth brazenly stripping our sovereignty from us.

The UN's weapon is not some secret army, but a piece of paper. Titled Agenda 21, it's just a series of non-binding UN recommendations to encourage sustainable economic growth in developing nations through voluntary actions. It's an innocuous document with zero force behind it, passed way back in 1992 with the support of Republican President George Bush. Some threat.

But in recent months, Agenda 21 was lifted from obscurity and turned into a foaming-at-the-mouth cause by the far-out right's nattering nabob of nuttiness, Glenn Beck. So, Beckian flakes, embracing his mad-dog claims, have been waving the tattered tea party banner, and rushing to the barricades to, By God, defend America from this… well, from this piece of paper.

The wonder is that even eight percent of the public has stuck with the tea party.

"Sidestepping Fiscal Showdown, Weaker Tea Party Narrows Focus," The New York Times, December 26, 2012.

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